The setting for Explore Calling – a Nov. 3-5, nationwide gathering of young people considering ordained ministry – was Portland, Oregon.
But it might as well have been called Great Plains West.
“I’d say we were easily the best-represented conference there,” said Shane Hinderliter, local church youth ministry coordinator, who attended the gathering.
Hinderliter estimated that of the 470 people who attended, 61 were from Kansas and Nebraska, including 45 young adults, seven campus ministers, seven seminary students with Great Plains ties and two conference staffers.
The Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, was one of the emcees for the three-day gathering. In addition, seven seminary students from the Great Plains led small groups.
Explore Calling included workshops on different types of ministry, funding theological education, navigating the ordination process, women in ministry, whether to be ordained and mission work.
It made an impression on those attending, including the Rev. Julie King, associate pastor of Colby United Methodist Church in Kansas, who was among the small-group leaders.
“I was almost at a loss for words at the way there was a complete connection with the whole church,” said King, in her second year as associate and her third year with the Colby UMC. “I was seeing so many young people excited about ministry. It was hopeful and it was amazing to be there as a leader and feel God working through all the generations and everybody coming together, from the bishop in the Congo down to youth who were in college.”
One particular moment that stuck with King was a time when attendees remembered their baptism, by obtaining a small stone and a small piece of leather from a station and using it as a focal point for prayer.
“The calm and the peace in that room was overwhelming,” she said. “The spirit that was present in that room was just amazing.”
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